In a new series, My Theatre Mates editor picks out five of her Top Picks from the week that was in theatre (18-24 March 2019), ranging from Libby Purves’ return (after a few months’ break) to Susan Elkin pondering what the weather will bring as she begins a string of visits to open-air theatre.
The open air season will soon be upon us. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind? as Shelley puts it. And no one does open air theatre with more hopeful enthusiasm than the lovably daft British.
I’ve thought and written a lot about performing arts foundation courses lately. It’s the time of year when students are looking at possible options for September and course providers are trying to sell their wares.
If you work with under-18s developing performance skills (along with confidence and all those other useful transferables) then Samantha Marsden’s new book is likely to be very helpful.
It is quite wrong for children to go through their childhood without ever experiencing the transformative magic of theatre simply because their parents aren’t very well off or don’t know much about theatre. Education is about opening doors.
Let’s hear it for pub theatres. Unheard of when I was a London teenager in the 1960s, there are now over 70 of them across the capital and they’re beginning to mushroom in other big cities too.
I’ve seen several plays recently (no names no pack drill) in which I have missed an occasional line. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, wrong with my hearing.
So what do you do with theatre programmes aka playbills (in the USA)? They make nice souvenirs of an evening out but what if you’re in the theatre working three or four times a week? You’d soon need a very large rented storage facility to accommodate them unless you own a mansion.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Oh dear. The production which originated at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park in 2015 before touring nationwide including to the Barbican, is now dead. It was due to tour again (now produced by Jonathan Church Productions, The Curve, Leicester and Open Air Theatre) this spring. Now it has been cancelled.
Surely it’s part of good, thorough training to prepare students for the critical world by letting them experience it before they graduate – even if you invite in only those critics you can trust to be fair?
Theatre critics have diaries bubbling with commitments. There’s some sort of press night or performance almost every day and often more than one. Clashes are surprisingly common. Getting to as many shows as possible is a juggling act.
Parents often tell me they’re worried about offspring who want to train for a professional performing arts career. They fret about future uncertainty, especially unemployment. My advice to them is always that there is nothing whatever to get anxious about.
Yes, I know we’re in a fiercely competitive industry. Everyone trying to make a living in it has to do everything possible to promote themselves and their wares. Social networking might have been invented for the performing arts industries.
I often see top “A team” critics looking miserably impassive as if they’d rather be anywhere but in the theatre. Is there some code of practice that I’m not party to which requires you never to smile, laugh or applaud because you’re a critic?
This year, for the first time in decades, I decided that I’d choose my own Christmas shows and arrange to review them rather than waiting for editors to impose them on me. And I’m having a lovely December so far.
Joanna Lumley, given all your aforementioned useful qualities, you could get attention from lots of influential blokes and get this thing off the ground in a way that I can’t. How about a Joanna Lumley Theatre Loos Campaign? (JLTLC)? I’ll be your number one supporter.
Theatrecraft, the annual careers fair, which I attended last week, is doing a fine job by getting around a thousand young people through the door every time.
It isn’t every day I stumble across a strong new vocational training opportunity which is almost free to the participants. I refer to the Lyric Ensemble which piloted in the 2017/18 academic year and has just started work with its second group.
Three new practical how-to books have landed on my desk along with one rather more academic title.
I think variety is the best thing about my life and work. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen a children’s show at Chichester, amateur takes on Our Country’s Good and Follies, three youth theatre shows (one of them in Cambridge and two by National Youth Theatre’s 2018 Rep Company), one straight play, one for under-5s and a musical at London’s Jermyn Street.